In his latest Pro Pundits article, Ash – aka ‘Chief’ – discusses his aggressive transfer strategy, losing a playing substitute and overlooking Manchester City assets.
It seems as if a lot has happened since writing my last Pro Pundits piece.
With December upon us and the commencement of the short turnaround between games, I decided to change my safety-first strategy, especially after having a squad of growing injured players and non-starters.
Prior to Gameweek 14, I had made four transfers in the previous five Gameweeks with only a solitary hit since Gameweek 4.
However, I’ve now made a staggering eight transfers (most of them during the early hours) in the past three Gameweeks, amounting to 16 points-worth of hits. Not all of the transfers have so far worked out as planned but they were made with a long-term view.
The best transfer that I made was selling Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.6m) for James Maddison (£7.7m) and I’ve already reaped substantial net gains from that move.
Buying Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5m) in Gameweek 16 made sense but acquiring him for a hit and his unfortunate injury amounted to a virtual nine-point hit, which proved to be catastrophic in the short term. Thankfully, I moved quickly to replace him for Martin Kelly (£4.3m) as he scored eight points last weekend.
It didn’t end there – I ditched Mason Mount (£6.6m) for Dele Alli (£8.7m), which also saw immediate net gains, but to make this happen I had to sell Frederic Guilbert (£4.4m) for Winston Reid (£3.9m) just for the sake of it. My previous transfers finally paid off for this weekend.
December is the time of the year when advice is given to strengthen benches but, in some ways, that’s something which hasn’t helped me of late. I’ve lost 46 points on the bench since Gameweek 11. For someone that traditionally keeps a light bench, that’s 40+ points too much.
But I don’t blame myself too much when I’ve benched Sergio Rico (£4.3m) against Manchester United (six), Rico against Liverpool (six), Todd Cantwell (£4.7m) away to Everton (ten) when he was struggling for starts, Cantwell against Arsenal (eight) and Rico against Crystal Palace before getting subbed off early (nine).
For the most part, those decisions beforehand made sense to me – it was just gut-wrenching to think that I had players on the field clocking up one or two points when my bench was scoring for fun.
Unfortunately, when I did finally need an auto-sub for this weekend, it was Cantwell and his miserly one point for Sadio Mane (£12.3m). Put simply, auto-subs haven’t worked in my favour and I’ve lost a lot of ground due to lost points on the bench.
I’m hoping that with only two ‘active’ substitutes that I can reduce the number of points I lose on the bench during the Gameweeks ahead.
A conscious decision that I made at the end of November was to have a squad without Manchester City assets. Having an FPL team with no coverage from the reigning champions seems a massive risk on paper. But when they’re struggling for form, hampered by injuries and managed by someone that is known for rotation, it made sense.
Don’t get me wrong, you have to hide behind the sofa when not owning Kevin De Bruyne (£10.2m) or Raheem Sterling (£11.8m) when they’re owned by a considerable number of FPL managers.
But how I saw it was that I could have a more balanced starting XI and invest in areas where other FPL managers simply couldn’t. The fact Sterling has only scored one goal since Gameweek 10 and De Bruyne has only scored two goals from Gameweek 6 almost justifies not having them in my squad.
Clearly, Manchester City have to improve from here and I need to re-invest in their assets soon. For now, at least, I’m just not enthused buying Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) when I’ve got the in-form Jamie Vardy (£10.1m) or buying City’s defenders when they’re struggling to keep clean sheets.
Looking at this weekend, after all the hits that I’ve taken of late, I feel almost content in not making any more transfers for now.
I have plenty of armband options at hand but the two which seem most tantalising are Mane against Watford and Vardy against Norwich. It’s almost too hard to decide on who to pick. I just know that if I captain one the other will do well and vice-versa.
But for me, from a logical perspective, Vardy probably edges it.
Despite Mane being rested last weekend, Liverpool have a fixture-laden December and the last thing they will need is for Mane to be unnecessarily over-exerted.
Norwich have the worst away record in the league and Vardy is getting close to breaking his goalscoring record that he set in the 2015/16 season. By virtue of that alone, I surely have to captain him.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ash, known by many as Chief, recorded his best-ever FPL finish of 110th in 2011/12 and has become a hugely popular name on Twitter ever since.
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